Amazon Wisdom Keeper: Behind the Scenes Interview

Amazon Wisdom Keeper Loraine Van Tuyl

What is Amazon Wisdom Keeper about and who is it for?

Amazon Wisdom Keeper is a narrative memoir and heartwarming testament offered to all of you out there who have, at one point or another, felt alienated, crazy, or overwhelmed by mystical experiences and messages in childhood or beyond. It is my extraordinary journey and transformation from clinical psychology graduate student to holistic psychologist and shamanic healer during an era in my field when honoring ancestral, intuitive, and mystical guidance felt threatening to both my sanity and career.

Its goal is to honor your own unique heroic journeys and demystify spontaneous shamanistic rites-of-passages and spiritual emergenc(i)es that are increasingly more often unraveling the lives of modern seekers, writers, artists, and sensitive, creative souls like yourselves who feel stuck within stifling social, academic, and professional settings.

What was your inspiration for the book?

I started to channel this book as a child, long before I knew what channeling meant and what this book would evolve into.

Around the age of 8, I'd already gathered that some of my insights, interests, and reactions to people and life were not "normal". I seemed too sensitive, too particular, too precocious, too stubborn, too pensive, too wise, too intense, too passionate, too weird, too consumed.

I began to separate and collect these parts of myself like out-of-place jigsaw puzzle pieces that belonged in a different box. After reading Anne Frank's diary, I tapped into a deep desire to use these rejected puzzle pieces to write my own book - a "parenting" book that would help parents understand what really went on in some children's minds -- modern-day Anne Frank-Joan of Arc-Helen Keller hybrids like me, who were perhaps not abnormal at all but had gifts and important messages to share.

At the age of 20, I wrote in my first diary that I wanted a diary ever since I was a kid to safe-keep my story, calls from the Great Mother, and insights for the "right person" who may "get to read it someday" after I'd become a "learned person."

The "someday" is now and I hope that the "right person" - my inspiration for the book - will be you.

Who are your favorite authors?

Throughout my life, books and their authors have offered me hard-to-find pieces that clarified the meaning and/or bigger picture of the section of mysterious puzzle that I was working on at any given time. They offered me the option for authentic connection so I didn't need to compromise myself in my more limited attachment relationships. They've expanded my horizons and mind beyond time and place, and the deep spiritual connection that exists between the authors of these books and myself - whether female or male, young or old, dead or alive - I've come to realize is just as mysterious as the puzzle itself.

Our connection seems to be part of a greater web of archetypal wisdom, spirit guides, spiritual teachers, and fellow seekers who have dropped these key missing pieces one-by-one like mana onto my path to show me the way. There are far too many to mention that on numerous occasions have not only crossed my path at the ideal time, but also appear to have delivered the missing piece on a silver platter by falling open to the exact page I needed or something mind-boggling like that. These experiences were the main reason why I began to challenge attachment-oriented theories that rigidly presumed that authentic expression is solely determined by parents' level of awareness and family-of-origin dynamics. Many millennials today are born with more expanded minds and clearer memory than their parents, which allow them to connect to other-worldly guidance for direct, spiritual transmissions and initiations, regardless of what's happening around them.

Main childhood influences: Diary of Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel's Night, biographies of Helen Keller and Joan of Arc.

Contemporary thought-leaders and influences: Brooke Medicine Eagle, Judith Orloff, Isa Gucciardi, Robert Thurman, Elena Avila, Jill Taylor, Malidoma Some, Eckhart Tolle, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Brian Weiss, Pema Chodron, Jean Shinoda Boden, Tara Mohr, Hiro Boga, Christine Page, Gabor Mate, Bessel Van der Kolk, David Wallin, Jack Kornfield, Daniel Siegel, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Roberts, Barbara Hand Clow, and Gerry Gavin and many more. My clients and colleagues have been every day teachers and continuous conduits of guidance.

Why did you write the book?

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." Albert Einstein

The more puzzles pieces I collected, the clearer I became that they were creating an image and story that had to do with far more than just parenting - these split-off pieces belonged to various multidimensional, interconnected realities, similar to the inner worlds of characters in Inception and Cloud Atlas, combined with more far-out realities and beings, similar to Avatar and Star Wars. As a whole, they represent our modern-day struggle to preserve our sacred intuitive mind, innate healing capacities, and every day connection to cosmic consciousness, Great Mother love, and compassion.

I hope to show in this book that it is possible to honor the intuitive mind as a sacred gift, and treat the rational mind as a faithful servant in modern society, no matter how educated or smart we become. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said at one of his talks, "Awareness wraps around thought. Thought doesn't wrap around awareness."

However, being able to surrender and submit our ego-minds and thoughts to awareness and divine intelligence -- to match our nature with Nature -- doesn't mean that it is easy. For some, like me, it required embarking on a heroine's journey and dark night of the ego to realign my overworked, rational mind.

What were the previous incarnations of this book and why did you decide on its current and final form (a narrative memoir)?

This book went through many incarnations.

Its earliest form was an imagined diary, like an imaginary friend --which meant having conversations in my head, and filing important ideas and "secrets" away in my mind. I began to record these in my first real diary at almost 20.

I postponed my dreams of writing a "parenting book" until my inner drummer had decided that I was "learned" enough. Unfortunately, by then, I had learned to write like a "learned" person - in a dry, academic, intellectual and analytical tone - and had learned to treat the word "I" as if it were dirty.

Trusting my intuition meant factoring myself, my personal style, and my unique perspectives back into my writing as well as into my research and clinical work despite the controversy this would stir. I conducted the only qualitative, cross-national dissertation study among my cohort, and studied psychospiritual concepts of self among Surinamese multiracial people. My "me-search" - reconnecting me to my multiracial and native roots and visiting Maroon people and villages deep in the rainforest - set the stage for ancestral guidance and my main spirit guide, Rainbow Crystal Woman, to come through.

Roger Walsh and Shauna Shapiro, respected leaders in my field, put out a call for phenomenological (subjective) papers by "gifted meditators" to challenge the limitations and "global colonization of the mind" caused by Western evidence-based research data and psychology.

I decided that my story fit the bill in defying common psychological assumptions about human development and began to structure it accordingly - as a longitudinal case-study. (It takes only one black swan to prove that not all swans are white, right?) But half-way through, I began to realize that my data - real-time recordings and letters - that were straight-up "telling" the story didn't do it justice.

I wanted to shape and package my book into something more full-bodied, mysterious, and complex that accurately represented my experiences. I noticed that my character's development and Story paralleled the shamanic/hero's journey, and that its core structure was naturally molding into something really great that nudged me to become skilled at the craft of writing.

In May 2004, right before the first of this century's two Venus transits, I began to tune into and "download" unfamiliar guidance and ancient Mayan wisdom. One of the "seven cosmic sisters" (before I realized that this term referred to the Pleiades) I was guided to during this intense time was Linda Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, who held a weekly spiritual memoir writing group at the time. Unfortunately, whenever I opened my creative writing channels, the information that I tapped into rushed out like water shooting out of a fire hose and lifted me like a helium balloon. It was very difficult to follow prompts and color within the lines of a memoir structure, so I decided to pursue training in energy medicine, depth hypnosis, and shamanic healing through the Sacred Stream instead until I was in a better place to apply all that I had learned to my memoir. With the help of dozens of spirit guides, I was eventually able to ground and incorporate the intense energy, guidance, healing lessons, and new skills into my practice.

Jordan Rosenfeld's writing and editing services and book, Make a Scene, appeared in my inbox when I was ready to pace and round out my writing with dialogue and scenes. The "showing" in addition to the "telling" of my story felt spot-on because it exemplified how guidance had come through for me, often without prior warning or knowledge. I loved this "touch and go" exploration of the creative process, fully surrendering to it rather than directing the outcome. Jordan's comment that my prose reminded her of Jung's Memories, Dream, Reflections, was a major turning point for me, a compliment and reframe that helped me to fully embrace and decide to make the most of my multidimensional voice and intuitive mind. "I" finally mattered. A lot. "I" finally became my best friend. A few years later, her book, Writing Deep Scenes, similarly popped up when I had completed my first draft, and has been my bible throughout my final edits.

For contemporary inspiration, I've admired and studied Cheryl Strayed's narrative memoir, Wild, for its flawless, elegant, and humorous interweaving of different scenes and times in her life throughout the book. I'm still trying to channel and infuse Dan Brown's suspenseful, brilliant, and quick-paced writing into mine, but no luck so far, especially not in terms of brevity of chapters.

How did you come up with the title "Amazon Wisdom Keeper"?

The book had as many different titles over the years as incarnations. Randy Peyser from Author One Stop suggested a few variations to Amazon Wisdom Keeper, and it instantly clicked. It not only grounds the book in my native land that has been of great inspiration to me, but it also honors the fiercely compassionate indigenous people from Galibi, North East Suriname, who the Amazon is named after and who capture the spirit and urgent message of my book. Here is an excerpt from my introduction, the true story behind the name straight from the "horse's mouth":

Back in Galibi, we joined the indigenous villagers in paying homage to the sun and the moon, the sea and the animals, the smallest flower and the biggest tree, blessing them one by one with their rattles and drums. After a long day at the beach, my children as well as some of the adult guests dozed off and nodded their heads in unison. Through an elaborate play-dance performance, a circle of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters re-enacted the legendary story of their female ancestors, passed down from generation to generation, while the men rattled and drummed.

Centuries ago, the brave ancestors of these women abandoned the tribal men -- their husbands, fathers, brothers, cousins, and uncles -- who were feasting in secret on some game that they had caught after days of hunting. The infuriated women fled with their sons and as many possessions as they could fit in boats by sea, shooting arrows at the men who were chasing them. They resettled in a different area along the northern coast of Suriname. Spanish explorers who encountered these predominantly female tribes named them, and later the entire region, the "Amazon" after the fierce female warriors from Greek mythology.

If these very connected and awake indigenous people, the descendants of courageous and wise Amazon women, still find it necessary to regularly remind themselves of the potential vices and virtues of human nature to keep themselves and their descendants in check, why not us?

How has your book been received by respected mentors, peers, and colleagues?

I'm incredibly grateful for dear friends and colleagues, many who have supported my journey for many years and offered constructive feedback and boosts of confidence along the way. Here are a few of their comments:

Loraine Van Tuyl has drawn on an extraordinary multicultural background and a career as a professional healer to produce a beguiling and insightful work of wisdom and compassion . . . Highly recommended!

- Mark Plotkin, PhD, President, 2001 Time Magazine's Environmental Hero for the Planet, bestselling author of Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice, the Killers Within, Medicine Quest


Loraine Van Tuyi has written a memoir which spans time and space, memory and pre-cognition. She bridges cultural landscapes of nations and mindsets with a breezy and natural writing style. She manages to escort the reader across the bridges she creates with skill and purpose so that the reader can begin to understand what is required to move from one realm to another and maintain equilibrium and balance. We can all learn from the courage and commitment to meaning and understanding Loraine so poignantly demonstrates in Amazon Wisdom Keeper.

- Isa Gucciardi, PhD, Founding Director and master teacher at, author of Coming to Peace, Return to the Great Mother


Thank you for giving me a preview! Your connection with the aitkanti (leatherback sea turtle) is really beautiful. And they serve as such a perfect metaphor for the current sufferings of our society. The more I develop, the more I'm just sad for the harnesses that nearly everyone walks around in, with no attempts to come out. You can see it in their bodies, hear it in their words, feel it in their heaviness... I feel blessed to be, in the smallest of ways, connected to the greater movement to heal! I like your spirit guide a whole lot. Fierce yet gentle, wise, with the power to cleanse and the majesty to inspire. I can't wait for the book to come out! All of the tales are so validating and so inspiring. Denise Colby, PhD, founder of Integrative Wellness ______ Your story is very powerful! The scene that you describe of your adventure to see the great aitkanti is very engaging. The way that picture of the aitkanti repeats in the telling of your personal journey of self-discovery is profound and effective. The story of your life and how you came to your knowledge of shamanic healing shows great depth of insight and capacity to go into those depths to learn what is true. I think it will resonate with those who are looking for validation of their own intuition. There are people who physically feel what is happening to the natural world and don't know how to "normalize" their experience. Experiences outside the realm of "acceptance" are very important for deeper learning and growing our consciousness. I really look forward to reading your book! You are a very perceptive person and healer, and your story is an important one for these times and this world. Kathy Lorenz, craniosacral therapist, tai chi instructor, and Zen-strength trainer at the Healing Journey ________ BRILLIANT!

Mini Stern, shamanic healer, holistic massage therapist and teacher _______ Thanks for continuing to share your evolving writing process. I am SO thrilled and amazed for you and all your hard labor birthing this beautiful baby. Don't change a thing. As we are poised at this critical time to evolve our consciousness, you have every reason to bring your work forward for the public and especially therapists to open themselves to the multidimensionality of our beings. Donna Morrish, MFT, creator of Paths of Grace


Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, spiritual teacher, depth hypnosis practitioner, and shamanic healer from the Sacred Healing Well, is devoted to helping wisdom keepers, seekers, healers, and teachers dive deep into their self-healing potential and carve out their sacred dream paths in service of their dynamic whole self and the greater good.

Her memoir, Amazon Wisdom Keeper: A Psychologist's Memoir of Spiritual Awakening. Click here to view the Amazon Wisdom Keeper Book trailer.

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